Rep. Introduces Bill to Amend Hacking Law in Wake of Prodigy's Suicide

Zoe Lofgren offers "Aaron's Law" to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

By BJ Lutz
|  Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 6:47 AM CDT
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Rep. Introduces Bill to Amend Hacking Law

Aaron Swartz was facing charges that carried a maximum penalty of decades in prison.

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Just one day after an Internet prodigy was laid to rest at his family's suburban Chicago synagogue, a California representative used the site the genius co-founded to publicize a bill he's proposed that would modify an existing hacking law.

In a post on Reddit, Rep. Zoe Lofgren said "Aaron's Law" would prevent the government from levying "such disproportionate charges" for incidents like the one the 26-year-old was accused.

Aaron Swartz, who help create Reddit and RSS, the technology behind blogs, podcasts and other web-based subscription services, was found dead Friday in his New York apartment. He faced decades in prison amid federal charges he illegally gained access to articles from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer archive.

His father on Tuesday blamed the government for his son's death, arguing the feds "hounded" him.

"He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles," Robert Swartz said Tuesday in Highland Park.

Lofgren argues the government inappropriately used vague language in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to apply Swartz's alleged actions to wire fraud.

"Using the law in this way could criminalize many everyday activities and allow for outlandishly severe penalties," she wrote in the Reddit post.

Her bill would amend the CFAA to exclude terms of service violations.

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